April 11, 2019 / 11:41 AM / 15 days ago

With Halloween the new Brexit deadline, MPs head off on holiday

LONDON (Reuters) - After the European Union agreed to delay Brexit by six months to end-October, European Council President Donald Tusk pleaded with Britain: “don’t waste this time”. Hours later, British lawmakers are heading off for a more than week-long Easter break.

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the House of Commons in London, Britain March 29, 2019. ©UK Parliament/Mark Duffy/Handout via REUTERS

With parliament at an impasse on Brexit, lawmakers have faced many long days of debate and late-night votes over the last few months, with a February break in parliamentary business and the first week of the Easter holiday already cancelled.

Last month, the government also cancelled a Friday off to hold a third unsuccessful vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and some lawmakers have even called for parliament to sit at weekends until a way forward on Brexit is found.

Exhausted members of parliament cheered as the government’s leader in the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, announced that as a result of the agreement to delay Brexit, parliament would take a break from the end of Thursday until April 23.

“I do want to wish all members of this House, their staff and all House staff a very relaxing break and a happy Easter,” she said, with a wide grin on her face.

The leader of the opposition Labour party in the Commons, Valerie Vaz, reeled off a long list of thank-yous to parliamentary staff, from doorkeepers to cleaners and postal workers to police, for their hard work.

“Not a single person has complained about working extra time to enable us to do our work and we thank them all,” she said.

But with continued uncertainty over the way forward and May saying lawmakers must “press on at pace” to try and find a consensus, many members of the public questioned whether parliament should be taking time off.

“It is not a question of going on holiday,” opposition Labour lawmaker Peter Dowd told Sky News when asked about the break. “I certainly won’t be going on holiday next week. I will be getting back to the constituency and doing the day job.”

Parliament usually has a six-week break over the summer and almost a month off in late September for the political party conference season, meaning lawmakers will not be due to be in parliament for close to half the Article 50 extension period.

“Cancel the villas in Tuscany and get this mess sorted out,” said one Twitter user, Rob.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison

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